I have seen the Taj Mahal many many times before. Yesterday I saw the real thing in shining marble. It was exquisite. I was prepared for disappointment, like that which I felt when I first saw the Mona Lisa for real. Such a tiny little dark portrait that didn’t at all compare with the lovely bright picture my grandfather had sent me from France. The Taj is one of the most beautiful buildings I have seen. We drank it in from its botanically accurate inlaid stone flowers to the delicate lattice work. I couldn’t help feeling sorry that the poor queen for whom it was built never actually got to see this supreme love token – it was built as a mausoleum after her death in childbirth (14th baby!).
We went from the Taj to Agra Fort – another wonderful building – we debated over which we preferred. And from there to another fort on the Rajasthan border.
Totally building-ed out, we headed for a national bird park in Bharatpur, where we have spent the day cycling around looking at the hilariously ungainly storks, herons, serpent eagles and more. It’s so peaceful here, although we’re annoyed that we didn’t manage to spot a python. We have seen plenty of nilgai (Blue cow) antelope though. They are so strange, like a cross between a horse, cow and deer. I have a theory that CS Lewis based his fauns on the nilgai.
Tomorrow we head for the capital, where sadly Rachel leaves us.